Without Anyone Paying Attention, Canada Is About To Change Its Laws To Support ACTA
from the sneaky,-sneaky dept
Thought ACTA was dead? While the EU Parliament may have strongly rejected it, and even with the EU Commission (who negotiated it) admitting that ACTA is dead, a variety of other countries still did sign on to the agreement. And, now, it appears that with basically no one paying any attention at all, Canada may be about to pass some laws to effectively tie itself to ACTA’s ridiculous requirements. The bill was originally introduced back in March, but was never considered by the Canadian Parliament. However, in late October, it was reintroduced under a new code, C-8, and it looks like it’s moving forward, despite almost no public discussion of it anywhere.
The whole point of ACTA, and this bill, are to unite two very different issues: counterfeiting and copyright infringement. The legacy copyright players have been trying to conflate these things for years. That’s because they can point to the tiny, but very real, problem of counterfeit drugs or safety equipment that can cause serious damage… and then mix it with the very “large” issue of copyright infringement (where they can’t show any actual damage or harm) and pretend that it’s a big problem which puts tons of people at risk. Of course, none of that is true. Counterfeiting may be an issue, but it’s a very small issue, and in the vast, vast majority of cases, with little to no threat of harm. But, the copyright legacy players have figured out that tying their bandwagon to the claim that “counterfeit drugs kill people” may help them to pass draconian copyright laws.
Bizarrely, the Canadian government appears to have bought this bogus argument, despite nearly all of the evidence suggesting it’s wrong. Michael Geist made exactly this point to the Canadian Parliament, but nearly everyone else they heard from were industry folks insisting that they needed this new “anti-counterfeiting” bill. And the end result is it appears that the Canadian Parliament is about to move forward on the bill without hearing from anyone other than Geist who might represent the interests of the public at large. As Howard Knopf notes:
What this exercise it will do – and has done – is to allow lobbyists with a maximalist agenda to use this fake problem of fakes to create the potential for interference with legitimate trade in parallel imports, vastly increased criminalization of everyday “infringement”, shifting of enforcement costs from the private sector to the taxpayer, and the interference with the transshipment of generic drugs and other legitimate products. The new law will allow incredible opportunity for abusive or even simply incompetent enforcement. This can be very costly to large and SME business, not to mention consumers. This is perhaps the most sweeping legislation in Canadian IP law in 70 years, and it is being done without adequate hearings, study or the demonstration of any need. Anyone looking for counterfeit products can find them on the street in mid-town and downtown Manhattan. One doesn’t find this kind of flagrant counterfeiting in Canada. The “evidence” of a major problem with counterfeit good that can’t already be dealt with via existing laws almost entirely anecdotal or absent. Piling on of responsibility to border officials is an unnecessary and costly mistake. The DNA and fingerprints of the movie and record industries are all over this bill.
Tragically, there appears to be almost no media coverage of this at all. Basically, it looks like Canadian politicians waited until everyone was looking elsewhere, and then tried to sneak ACTA right through the Parliament. This would be a major win for the movie and recording industries in the US, but a massive loss for Canadians and Canadian innovation.